Dall Sheep

Members of this family have true horns (made of Keratin while antlers are made from bone) which are never shed and not branched. Horns are present in both sexes.

Dall Sheep – Ovis dalli dalli

Dall sheep inhabit mountainous areas of Alaska and are found in relatively dry country and utilize a combination of open alpine ridges, meadows and steep slopes. They are rarely found below treeline.

Ram
Click photo by Kirsty Knittel, www.NaturalAlaska.net

Male Dall sheep is called rams. They are distinguished by massive curling horns. The females, called ewes, have shorter, more slender, slightly curved horns. In the late fall or winter, horn growth ceases. This is caused by a change in body chemistry during the rut. This start-and-stop growth of horns results in a pattern of rings called annuli. These rings can be distinguished from the other corrugations on the sheep’s horns and age can be determined by counting the annuli. Rams can reach 16 years, ewes 19.

Breeding occurs in December. Lambing occurs on rugged cliffs in May as a deterrent to predation. Food includes a wide variety of green plants in summer and dry, frozen grass and sedge stems, mosses and lichens in winter. They utilize mineral licks to help make up for mineral deficiencies. Different bands of sheep often meet at mineral licks and young males sometimes leave the band and grow up and join another resulting in good genetic diversity among the sheep populations.

Dall sheep preservation was the motivation for the establishment of Denali National Park as a wildlife sanctuary for wildlife.

Alaskan Wildlife can be seen in Denali National Park. Kantishna Wilderness Trails provides Alaska Wildlife Day Tours while Kantishna Roadhouse offers Denali Wilderness lodging and accommodations for Alaska Travel and Alaska Vacations deep into Denali National Park.

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